No endeavor of value is without an element of risk. Going to school, starting a job, making friends, and trying something new are all risky things to do; even such activities as walking down the street or reading a book have an degree of risk to them. A perfectly safe life is a life that is not lived, and nothing of value is gained without something being risked to gain it! “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat” (Theodore Roosevelt).
Here it is important to recognize the difference between real and perceived risks. Real risk is exactly what it sounds like; it is the actual danger of something bad occurring. Perceived risk is the level of risk that exists in the mind of a given person. It is difficult to know if one’s perception of risk matches up with the actual risk of a given situation, but that does not matter. It takes just as much courage to overcome a perceived risk as it does to overcome real risk. For example, it is safer to come on a COR trip than it is to drive to the store. However, when you are about to rappel down a 100 foot cliff or raft class III and VI rapids it feels much more dangerous than driving your car and thus takes more courage to follow through. It does not matter if perceived risk is greater than the real risk because it takes real courage to overcome them both. In the end it is perceived risk that is more important because the person who risks more, gains more, even if part of the risk is only in that person’s mind.
If you are comfortable then no growth is taking place. However, terror is an equally poor stimulator of learning, so we see that learning and growth can only take place in the area between comfort and panic. COR trips are designed to push their participants outside of their comfort zones and challenge them to try new things without causing them to shut down. The investment of time and energy along with the surrender of a certain amount of security that is necessary to come on a COR trip makes the participants more likely to engage fully in the trip and thus gain more from it. COR guides strive to challenge participants at a level appropriate to the individual’s level so that students are neither bored nor overly stressed, both of which scenarios deprive the participants of the opportunity to learn.
Pope St. John Paul II reminded us that when Christ came to share the Gospel it was not to bring peace but to “set the world ablaze” with the love of God! An apt metaphor because fire, while being so essential to our lives that we often do not even notice it, is among the most destructive and dangerous forces on the planet. Nothing is gained without risk and nothing is risked by a life lived only in comfort and security. “The World tells you to be comfortable but I say that you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) The world tells you to be comfortable because it fears the fire that Jesus came to start. Like Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play the world says, “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.” so it tries to get you to live in a padded room wearing a jacket that helps you to hug yourself forever. The world fears that you will might actually become something great so it tries to make you so afraid of discomfort that you do nothing, but we do not have to be afraid; God is with us and in the wilderness He speaks to us.
Our Professional Experience and Risk Management
Risk management is a top priority at COR. Our excellent safety record, expertise, certified instructors, and extensive training all point to our high standards and commitment to the safety of our participants. Our staff have been designing and instructing courses for more than 20 years in nearly every outdoor environment all over the United States and on 5 continents. COR Expeditions has put together over 20,000 program days on more than 20 three-week long course and 100 week-long trips without any major incidents. Our safety protocols are among the best in the nation and the are only getting better.
Before every trip goes out COR staff spend many hours planning and preparing for both subjective and objective hazards. Subjective hazards are those hazards that are subject to human influence. For example, fatigue, group dynamics, and personal decision making are all potential subjective hazards that our staff plan and prepare for. Objective hazards are those hazards that are outside the sphere of human influence; ie. weather, terrain, and wildlife etc. COR instructors do everything that they can to prepare for as many possible hazards as they can so that they can manage the risk in a safe and professional manner. In addition, our instructors have a very high level of expertise in many different fields, which enables COR Expeditions to participate in a variety of different outdoor activities safely. Whether you are kayaking, rock climbing, or backpacking, our instructors have the expertise and experience necessary to competently and safely guide you through these life-changing experiences. COR Expedition’s professional instructors have a variety of certifications including medical certs such as Wilderness First Aid, CPR training, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness EMT. Our staff have also gone through very extensive training. At a bare minimum, all COR staff have 20 weeks of guiding experience on previous trips and have taken a 2 week professional instructor course taught by the COR’s founder, Dr. Tom Zimmer. All staff members have instructed at least one three-week trip, and have instructed multiple courses, in which they have worked side-by-side with Dr. Tom Zimmer.